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TOPIC: What's it like to have Aphantasia?

What's it like to have Aphantasia? 5 months 3 weeks ago #5125

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I have created this survey as I am fed up of filling out surveys by people who have no grasp of what it is like to live with Aphantasia. Please fill it out, I will share the results and use it to create better surveys that will give me and hopefully others a better understanding of Aphantasia.

The link is here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BK9QVYL

I hope this will be helpful! :)
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 5 months 3 weeks ago #5128

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Here is what the survey seems to be suggesting so far:
-It has no correlation to brain damage
-It effects your memory badly
-It can effect your performance at school badly
-People with Aphantasia seem to not play musical instruments

Some of these are probably wrong, please complete the survey and help more trends come out and disprove these ones if they are incorrect.

Thank you :)
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 5 months 3 weeks ago #5130

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Hi, here are the results in several graphs. (These are just from the people with Aphantasia who answered the form.
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 5 months 3 weeks ago #5131

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Hi, here are the results in several graphs. (These are just from the people with Aphantasia who answered the form.)
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 4 months 4 weeks ago #5244

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I mistakenly clicked on the little minus sign under your name and reduced your karma!! total accident :oops:
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 3 months 1 day ago #39282

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I looked at your survey, hoping that it would help me to understand if, or to what extent, I have aphantasia. My problem is the following:

Faced with a question like "How strong is your mind's eye," with answers ranging between "I can't see anything" to "My mind's eye is abnormally good," I am still at a complete loss to know how to answer. I have suspected the possibility that I have aphantasia for more than a year now, but I still haven't found a clear definition of how to judge if I have it or not.

My principal problem is that I still have no conception of what "normal" people mean when they speak of seeing an image in their mind. To me (obviously), I don't "see" an image at all. There is nothing I can look at, inspect, maybe turn around in my mind and view from different angles, or anything like that. If I try to "picture" a person I know well, I don't "see" anything at all. I have some sort of a knowledge that I am aware of roughly what they look like, but I am not "seeing a picture" of them in my mind. If asked to describe them, I would not get far beyond being able to say that they had two eyes, a nose and a mouth.

It is impossible for me to imagine that anyone literally means they "see a picture" when they speak of seeing in their mind's eye. Does this mean that I have aphantasia? Or does it mean that I should not take "normal" people literally when they say they see images in their mind? Are they really just speaking figuratively?

It is very hard for me to be sure whether the apparent aphantasia that I have is merely a consequence of a failure of language to allow people to compare their visual impressions, or whether I am supposed to believe that there are people who really mean what they say when they say they see pictures in their mind.

I cannot imagine that someone who speaks of seeing vivid imagery would use those words if their imagery were really at the almost non-existent level I think I have, but how can I be sure that they are not simply using overly florid language to describe the same kind of (essentially non-existent) visual sensations that I experience?
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 2 months 3 weeks ago #39312

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Sorry friend, I think they really experience a strong visual image and often movie like experience that I can not really fathom having access to during conscious hours. I have "practiced" visualizing and seen very clear, bright, and real life images.
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 2 months 3 weeks ago #39314

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moyer wrote:
Sorry friend, I think they really experience a strong visual image and often movie like experience that I can not really fathom having access to during conscious hours. I have "practiced" visualizing and seen very clear, bright, and real life images.

Interesting, what you say about practicing visualising. How does one go about doing that? I wouldn't know how to start, since I don't have any ability at all to summon up actual images in my mind, even faint ones.

I think I have had the impression occasionally, when transitioning from sleep to wakefulness, that I am fleetingly seeing some sort of vestigial dream-like mental images that fade away completely as I wake up.

But when awake, I don't see any actual mental images, even faintly, that might allow me to "practice" making them more vivid. It's a bit like wiggling my ears; I can't do it and I have no idea therefore how I could "practice" doing something that is completely outside my experience and ability.
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 2 months 3 weeks ago #39315

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Stringer- I'm sort of in the same boat. I do not know yet how to activate visualization consciously, but if I close my eyes and get settled, I eventually get some sort of noise signal in my visual perception. Sometimes this is simply little light spots and sometimes they develop into a partial flash of an image. Now, the "practice" part is setting all this up, and then to attempt to get those images to not disappear... I have actually had best results through this method: as soon as I realize that there is an image present, I turn my concentration and visual perception to a different part of the inky darkness behind my eyelids. This is hard! But what I have experienced is that those images sometimes start becoming more in focus, often enlarge in size, and I SEE what is in the image. These images often feel like a hole torn in a pitch black wall and I can see the outside world. Like it is real daylight. It is weird. I am sorry I have nothing better to offer :) if and when I figure this out more I'll obviously report it. Feel free to keep this conversation flowing, this forum is not the most active.
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 2 months 3 weeks ago #39317

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moyer wrote:
Sorry friend, I think they really experience a strong visual image and often movie like experience that I can not really fathom having access to during conscious hours. I have "practiced" visualizing and seen very clear, bright, and real life images.

I find it quite fascinating that it is possible to go through life being completely unable to conjure up mental images, and yet to have been totally unaware that one was any different from "normal" people in this respect. Even after reading up about aphantasia I have still found it hard to accept this; for me it was much easier to continue believing that people were just speaking figuratively, or exaggerating, when they spoke of seeing mental images. I guess I am gradually accepting now that I do have total aphantasia, and that the normal population are not all lying or exaggerating when they say they see mental images!

Which leaves me wondering: How much has my life actually been affected by the fact that I have aphantasia? I was never aware of "missing out" on anything because I could not visualise. I have never beent good at recognising people, and putting names to faces, but that is not necessarily exclusive to those with aphantasia, I think. And I somehow "know" what close friends look like, even if I cannot summon up mental images of them,

I suppose one thing that it affects is the way in which one's thought processes work. I remember posing the philosophical question to friends of mine, as to whether it would be possible to think, in any serious way, if one did not have a language to think in. I believe I depend almost exclusively on verbal thinking, in which I conduct an internal spoken dialogue with myself whenever I am thinking about anything. I remember some of my friends would claim that a lot of thinking could be done pictorially or with mental imagery, and I suppose that should have alerted me to the fact that there was something different about them, compared with me! I, of course, had no idea what they meant, and so probably I just dismissed what they were claiming as exaggeration or a failure to recognise that they were actually using language. But now I realise that probably they meant what they said.
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What's it like to have Aphantasia? 2 months 3 weeks ago #39319

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stringer wrote:
I find it quite fascinating that it is possible to go through life being completely unable to conjure up mental images, and yet to have been totally unaware that one was any different from "normal" people in this respect. Even after reading up about aphantasia I have still found it hard to accept this; for me it was much easier to continue believing that people were just speaking figuratively, or exaggerating, when they spoke of seeing mental images. I guess I am gradually accepting now that I do have total aphantasia, and that the normal population are not all lying or exaggerating when they say they see mental images!

My wife not only has aphantasia, she also has total prosopagnosia. I believe that everyone with prosopagnosia also has aphantasia, but the reverse is not true. When I met my bride, nearly ten years ago, she had never even heard of prosopagnosia or aphantasia, much less been diagnosed. She actually believed that everyone else in the world was just like she was -- could not visualize in their mind's eye or recognize faces. She always thought that in movies/TV, when someone showed somebody a picture and asked if they knew or had seen that person, it was a stupid and pointless joke as no one could recognize people from a photo. It irritated her that they kept using that same tired old joke, over and over. She never understood why they bothered putting pictures on drivers' licenses either.

She had a devil of a time accepting all this when I first told her. I, on the hand, was born a visualizer and could recognize faces, so I understood the capabilities of neurotypicals and had no trouble at all accepting and understanding aphantasia and prosopagnosia when I acquired them.

Even after a neurologist tested and diagnosed her, she still had troubled getting a handle on everything.
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
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